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Greetings!

Hello anyone who might have wandered onto this site! I am Johiah, a budding author who dabbles occasionally in writing stuff. This website is currently for my latest and only story, The Final Few.  The first chapter can be found here, and here is the table of contents. I don’t really have a set writing schedule but the goal is once per week.

That’s all for now, have a wonderful day!

Chapter 3

Mennon gazed in wonder at the sight that lay through the wraithglass encircling the command dome of the Musteon. Space unfolded around humanity’s refuge as the great reality warping engine wound down, revealing a breathtaking view. Half the sky was blotted out by the glow of ionized gas, energized by nearby stars in their final stages of life. The other half was pitch black by comparison, any stars that lay within the void hidden due to the glow of the ancient, mineral rich nebula.

Turning his mind from the view, Mennon pulled up an interactive display of the system the Musteon now perched above. One of the few young stars residing in the nebula, it was still in its infancy, gravity working hard to coax the little remaining nearby fuel towards the budding star. The age of the nebula led to an abundance of heavier elements needed for proper ship repairs. As expected, the pull of the star’s gravity served to concentrate the nearby resources into a blanket for the budding star. Mennon smiled, and turned to Neyana. “Travelling here was an excellent choice. Looks like we shouldn’t have any trouble at all getting what we need.”

She simply nodded, too intent reading numerous reports to acknowledge him.

Mennon sighed, running his hands through his hair. The damage reports were… troubling, to say the least. The original builders had constructed the ship entirely out of wraithsteel, which responded well to psychic powers. Things like his chair, for example, could reform according to the will of their user, and imitate other materials as well. Normally repairs would be easier than baking a pie, as the engineers could simply summon more wraithsteel and it would mold itself into the damage. However, wraithsteel had a running cost to maintain itself, which the core was currently barely capable of providing. The best estimates put fully repairing the ship with wraithsteel alone to take 70 years or more.

Thus the need for other sources of repair materials. Mennon and the farsight council were hopeful that the solar dust contained the necessary elements for some rather critical repairs to the reality drive and the manufacturing dome.

It took several hours to finish the long distance analysis of the system, during which Mennon continued to examine the data for anomalies.

“Did you find anything?”

Shaking her head in the negative, Neyana replied, “No. Everything seems to be standard for a birthing system.” There was a pause, and more screens flickered past. “The pilots for the mining drones seem to be having issues with the connection. They’re requesting your assistance.”

Mennon sighed slightly. “Alright, I was just finishing up here anyways.” He stood up. “Contact me if anything big happens.”

Neyana gave a short nod.

A flick of his mind had the tube network routing a transport pod to the command dome’s entrance. Mennon began heading that way, nodding to the officers he passed. As he walked, his mind reached out, searching for Legado’s unique mental signature. Countless minds, both inside the wraith circuit and anchored inside a body, flickered past his perception rapidly as the mental net he cast expanded further and further across the ship. Normally telepathic abilities could never reach out to 80 miles, but with the wraith circuit as a conduit, there was nowhere on the ship that the farseers could not communicate with each other.

Legado was within the core of the ship. When Mennon’s mind brushed against Legado’s, he physically staggered to the side as an immense sense of loss and repressed pain enveloped him. Mennon leaned against the wall as he severed the connection, breathing heavily.

As Mennon leaned against the wall he felt a tendril of thought reach the edge of his mind. He gave it permission and connected. Legado?

Yes, sorry about that. Mennon could feel Legado’s concern flow across the mental link. Normally I leave my mind shielded, but we are about to perform a short term future telling. Are you alright?

Mennon mentally nodded. No lasting harm was done. Serves me right for forgetting just how powerful you are. He paused. I was planning on asking you where you were, but you just answered that for me. I’ll leave you to the future telling. Mind sending me the results?

Of course. With that, the connection severed.

One of the minds within the wraith circuit impatiently alerted Mennon to the fact that the pod he ordered had been waiting several minutes now. He sent a quick apology, and started walking again, somewhat faster this time.

It took but a minute to arrive at the transfer station. Mennon stepped up onto the boarding platform, opened the door to the spherical pod, and stepped in. The door sealed automatically behind him. All it took was a mental push and the pod began rapidly accelerating along the track. Mennon used the pod’s built in screen to call the engineering bay that he was headed towards. One of the pilots picked up.

The young man, hardly looking to be 60, picked up the phone. He asked irritably, “Yes?”

Upon seeing who was on the other end, the young pilot’s demeanor rapidly changed. “Lord Mennon! I was not expecting your call!”

Mennon smiled slightly. “I’m just calling to let you know that I will be arriving shortly to assist with the calibration. According to the pod ETA I’ll be there in about 10 minutes.”

The pilot grinned. “Excellent. With your assistance this shouldn’t take too long at all. See you then!” The call ended.

Mennon sat back in his seat and sighed again. Accidentally brushing Legado’s outer mind unprotected had reminded him of how Legado used to be, before the Shattering had taken place. Back when they hadn’t known.

Legado had once been as happy as anyone could be. He was one of the first ascendant humans, along with 17 others who had been the first batch of genetically modified people with greater access to the Tumult. He had lived through the final decades of the seemingly endless war that had taken place between humanity and the countless other denizens of the Milky Way. Legado had watched as a Golden Age arose, the energy from the Tumult providing everything they could have wanted. He had also lived through the Shattering.

It had hit him hard, when society collapsed. Plans to launch worldships like the Musteon had already been in the works, but the imminent depletion of the Tumult had accelerated the time table considerably. The worldship program had been where Mennon met Legado for the first time, a living legend made flesh. Mennon had looked up to him as an idol. As a rising star among the ranks of skilled psychics, Mennon had become close friends with Legado. When they’d had to flee the Shattering on the still unfinished Musteon, it had broken Legado. Unable to pull his friend from the depths of sadness, Mennon witnessed firsthand as his childhood idol, now friend, went through a stage of intense emotional turmoil. Mennon lost a friend, that year. The permanently sanguine and prideful Legado that he had known was dead, and had been replaced with a seething ball of determination. Still unwilling to let go of his human pride, the new Legado was determined to see humanity’s proliferation in the Andromeda galaxy at all costs.

When Legado had touched Mennon’s mind just after he had recoiled, Mennon had detected the old Legado, just for a moment. But just as quickly, it had gone again. Mennon worried that even if they were successful in establishing a new human nation his old friend may never come back.

Mennon’s mind returned to its usual state as the pod he was traveling in came to a stop at the engineering bay.

Stepping onto the white metal of the maintenance bay deck, Mennon looked around. He hadn’t yet been in the engineering bay due to it being depressurized by a collision in deep space, and had only recently been repaired.

The engineering dome was like much of the rest of the craft on the outside, a large partitioned sphere. Mennon’s pod had deposited him at the entrance to one of the minor maintenance bays within, used to repair small craft. It stretched several thousand feet across, and about five hundred craft of various sizes were situated within. People ran from craft to craft as much of the Musteon’s engineering know-how was employed in getting the ancient mining drones running.

The Musteon’s planners had accounted for the possibility of needing to harvest resources, but had considered it an incredibly remote one. The drones were outdated and archaic, using first generation energy receivers and possessing only rudimentary mental linking ability.

In his haste to dig into a difficult problem, Mennon jumped the railing encircling the top steps into the room. Just before he hit the ground, a twist of his mind saw his velocity reduced to nothing.

He scanned the room quickly again, looking for the head engineer. As his gaze moved over a group below one of the larger craft, one of them waved. Mennon waved back and began walking quickly in that direction.

The group of five stopped talking as Mennon neared, opening their circle to make room for him.

One spoke up. “Good morning to you, Mennon. My name is Anita and I’m the head engineer in charge of this mess.”

Mennon inclined his head as the others introduced themselves. “So what seems to be the problem? I was informed there was an issue with the sensory array calibration?”

Anita scowled. “There’s more than one issue, but that’s the most troubling one. These mining craft are so out of date that they are completely incompatible with our command pods. They only relay video that’s even formatted differently from the standard, and we’ve been unable to modify it at all. The finicky things will only accept farseer access codes.”

Pointing to the hull that loomed over them, Mennon inquired, “I take it this craft above us is the main relay?”

“Yes. The system considers it the main node so any changes made to it should propagate through the subsystems.”

Mennon nodded. “I’ll see what I can do.”

He turned to the ship, reaching out with his mind. The machine mind contained within its wraithsteel hull responded to the contact quickly.

Greetings. Detecting key… Detected. User: Farseer Mennon Minagi. Welcome, administrator.

A mental map of the craft’s physical layout appeared in Mennon’s mind. He focused in on the ship’s core, where it’s mana relay and central processing unit resided. Upon focusing on that specific section of the ship, the other information faded away and more detailed information for that section appeared. Mennon trawled through thousands of lines of semi-organic code, fixing minor bugs along the way. The quality (or lack thereof) within the program made it obvious to him that the original designers had never expected these to become necessary.

He bypassed the second level of security around the code dictating critical operations, and then connected the craft to the Musteon’s wraith circuit. A number of minds within the circuit had knowledge of the original design and as such were in a much better situation to fix the problem, so at this point all Mennon needed to do was sit down and wait.

He sat upon the floor of the maintenance bay and leaned against a container of spare parts, watching his mind as his bodyless human companions sifted through the core code and compared it to the systems found within the more up to date vessels the Musteon carried. It only took a few minutes to fix the issue, upon which the spirits withdrew back into the main circuit and the connection between the two snapped.

Mennon opened his eyes, and stood up. He scanned the crowd for Anita, spotting her under the engine of a vessel that resembled nothing more than a large funnel with an engine stuck on the thin end.

She turned to him as he neared, and tilted her head inquisitively. “Well?”

“I successfully unlocked the core, and had a number of those that worked on the original design update its programming for me. It should be possible to push the update to the entire fleet now.”

Anita’s gaze went out of focus. He could feel her mind expand as she reached out towards the vessel Mennon had modified. He watched mentally as she double checked the connections between the main barge and its attendant craft, before flipping a switch within the code.

Mennon let out the breath he had been holding as nothing visibly happened. The only sign of a change was the computer giving a mental confirmation letting them know the command had been successfully updated.

Anita looked at Mennon again. “It seems to have worked.”

He nodded. “Do we have any test command pods in here?”

Anita pointed to the far wall of the bay, which was a glass wall through which a number of silvery metal eggs could be seen.

“I see. That certainly answers my question. I’m going to test the modifications we just made, can you clear the launch bay?”

Anita nodded in confirmation. Mennon turned and paced towards the aforementioned room, wincing inwardly as he weaved through the mess of engineers and crates. Despite being over two hundred years old, he’d never entirely gotten the hang of this whole ‘social interaction’ thing.

Upon reaching the door, one of the people within the wraith circuit reached out to his mind, confirming his identity and granting access to the testing command pods. The door hissed softly as it opened.

He stepped into the room, giving it a cursory examination. The room was completely white, made of the wraithsteel that almost the entire ship was comprised of. Ten command pods were arranged in two rows of five in the center of the room. Each resembled an egg slightly larger than a person, nestled within a metal cradle. A number of wires protruded from the top and bottom of each egg, flowing along the outside towards the central spine bracing, where they joined together and followed the structural brace into the floor.

The walls were completely bare, white panels, with the exception of the wall facing the maintenance bay. Mennon activated the local computer, causing the lights within the room to light up. The far wall began glowing with a large amount of information regarding the status of pod one, which had begun to make a humming noise as it spooled up to functionality.

Mennon tugged on his sleeve cuffs, and nudged the material with his mind. It expanded, forming a pair of gloves for his hands. His standard issue jumpsuit reformatted itself so that the only exposed portion of his body was his nose and mouth, while the rest was sealed within the suit.

He approached the active pod, keying his credentials into a keypad that appeared on the top of the oblong egg. The humming increased in volume as the egg’s shape changed to account for his size and weight. After a moment, it stopped expanding. The top split lengthwise along the pod, and the two halves slid down into the sides of the pod.

He climbed in, and sent a final confirmation with his mind. The lid closed over the top of him with nary a sound. After a moment, the capsule began filling with a gelatinous substance that could provide oxygen and nutrients to his body while his mind was elsewhere.

As the gel filled his lungs, he slipped into unconsciousness.

Worldbuilding short: The Destruction of Kaidonne

High leader Aimayal started awake with a jolt. He sat up partially and looked around his room. He listened quietly, waiting for the noise to repeat itself. He checked the pad sitting on the desk next to him, keeping an eye on the room. Seeing nothing, and finding the perimeter alarms had not been tripped, Aimayal eventually fell back asleep.

An amorphous blob of black goo oozed through the crack in Aimayal’s door. Once inside the room it flowed upwards, resolving into the shape of a featureless humanoid shape. It crept quietly to where Aimayal slept, pausing by his bed. It tilted its head to the side while looking down on him, before lashing forwards. The creature’s arm morphed, covering Aimayal’s mouth and nose completely. The man tried to scream and began thrashing, but the creature was too strong. It continued to hold him down as his thrashing weakened, until at last Aimayal fell unconscious.

The creature’s arm resolidified, and he stopped choking Aimayal. It paused for a moment, again tilting its head to the side and observing him. Seeming to come to some kind of conclusion, the creature began seeping into Aimayal. Every pore, orifice, and opening in Aimayal’s body was an entrance for this entirely unnatural creature.

In a moment, it was finished. There was no trace the creature had ever been in the room. Aimayal’s eyes opened. He sat up, readjusted the sheets, and fell back asleep.

The next morning, when Aimayal woke up and went through his early routine, everything seemed to be fine. Nothing had outwardly changed, his routine the same as ever.

When he greeted his second in command, it was the same as ever. When he greeted the guards, it was the same as ever. When he greeted the high council that he was a part of, it was the same as ever.

Internally, Aimayal was screaming. His body had been puppeted by this… thing. There was nothing he could do. Any commands he tried to send to his body were intercepted by the puppeteer. A week went by where not a single portion of Aimayal’s routine changed. It was, he reflected, a great irony. For Aimayal knew what the puppeteer was. In fact, Aimayal was the one to authorize the research project that gave rise to the monstrosity now inhabiting his body.

As the weeks went by, his schedule continued unchanged. The creature seemed to have an inability to divert from his usual schedule. Presumably this was a limitation, a remnant of their attempts to create a controllable strain. Aimayal had hoped this project would provide infiltration units capable of ending the war. Evidently they would, although it was not in a way that anyone could have expected.

So close to the creature, Aimayal had access to the hivemind’s thoughts. It was dangerous to peer into such a large mind for too long, but Aimayal was forced to watch as friends and enemies all were subjugated, in back alleys and subways, restaurants and offices. No one ever caught on. The hivemind did, after all, pay excruciating attention to routine.

Aimayal, and so many others, were forced to watch as the entire world was enslaved by the hivemind, puppets performing the same empty, meaningless routine with each other, day after day, week after week.

For so proud a species to be brought so low, frozen at the edge of ascension to a space faring empire. It broke Aimayal’s heart to know that their species would never amount to anything, all due to his pride.

When the time came for the yearly council meeting of each of the Compact’s species, Aimayal simply assumed this meant that the hivemind would begin spreading to the rest of Andromeda, slowly, carefully, cautiously.

Aimayal did not realize, however, that for every terrible invention, one surely existed that was moreso. About two months after the hivemind’s diplomatic puppets left for the yearly meeting, something changed in the routine. A shadow was cast upon the capital of this desperate, hopeless world. The hivemind watched from a billion eyes as a spacecraft the size of a small nation ponderously moved into orbit. The hivemind’s budding space presence was swatted aside by glittering green beams, given all the attention a bear gives a fly.

The worldship sat perched above the planet for two weeks, watching. Aimayal and countless others watched through eyes that were no longer their own. They began to hope that this mysterious ship may have the ability to free them from their puppeteers.

At the end of the second week, the ship began to move. It began shrinking as it withdrew from low orbit. At first it was thought that the ship had simply decided to leave, but when the first blasts impacted the surface, they knew this to be false.

The ship began firing on the planet that day, beams of glittering energy carving through the planet while leaving roiling plasma in their wake, and kinetic impactors that shook continents with the force of their collision.

The residents of the planet rejoiced even as they burned, for death meant freedom from slavery that could have continued until the end of the sun.

Kaidonne was intensely bombarded for less than an hour, but by the end the planet had been reduced to a tectonically unstable ball of flaming rock, so hot that the oceans evaporated within a week.

When the ship left, not a trace of life was left in the system.

Worldbuilding short: X and Makil

A/N: This short takes place after the end of the main series.

Eximanonimus Rescalphus Milanius crept along the warehouse floor. His target, a human guarding a tunnel entrance, was less than 15 feet away and had yet to see him. He crouched, preparing to leap at the guard. Just as he began to jump, he heard a thud from behind him.

“Hey X, how’s your day been?”

X sighed. “Makil, how did you sneak up on me like that?”

The Makil by the tunnel slowly faded away while winking at X. X turned, finding Makil standing behind him. “I learned a new trick involving embedding an image of myself in my current position, which allowed me to then make myself invisible and sneak behind you without you sensing anything off.”

There was a rustling from halfway down the warehouse. An alien, a szarrhok if the spines were any indication, burst from hiding and began running to the exit of the old warehouse. Makil looked meaningfully to X.

X reached out with his power, searching for and finding the szarrhok’s mind in less than a second. His will swept through her mind, halting her forwards motion, erasing her memories and knocking out her conscious mind.

Makil bolted down the warehouse, weaving between precariously stacked boxes as he made his way to the porcupinish alien. He took a spherical disk of wraithsteel out of a pocket and placed it on the szarrhok’s chest. The disk sunk into her smooth spineless underbelly, vanishing under the skin.

Makil turned back to X. “I was due for a replacement, anyway. Can you handle guard duty while I take this to the dropoff point?”

X scowled. “It is a she.”

“Our very survival is at stake, X. Your morals have no place here.”

Even as X composed a reply, Makil delicately picked up the szarrhok, and vanished.

X assumed position by the tunnel. He knew what would happen next. The szarrhok would wake up in an alley next to a nearby bar that served that species, with no recollection of the past day. Her memories had been edited to suggest that she had gotten roaring drunk, with a mental compulsion to avoid the abandoned warehouse that their band of refugees was hiding in. She would try to live a good life, become a contributing member of society. And, if the time came where the humans were discovered, her, along with countless other sleeper agents X had assisted to create, would head to important government and military locations planetwide.

At which point the invisible, intangible, undetectable spherical wraithsteel disks would become tangible just long enough to detonate.

Unseen by X, and undetectable to psychic powers, a pair of eyes watched from above, in the shadows of the corner of the roof.

Chapter 2

The two were sitting on a bench on the observation belt around the ocean dome, watching the wind caress the surface of the ocean, sending waves rippling across it.

Neyana spoke then. “I think we should befriend them, if possible.”

Mennon slowly bit into the crisp, fresh apple, and eyed Neyana as he considered her words. “I think that’s a lovely sentiment. Three things, however, must be considered. First, there must be sentient xenobiology in Andromeda, second, said life forms must not be inherently hostile or completely incompatible with our modes of thought, and third, that they are close enough to our level of technology that we don’t scare them into banding together, or that we aren’t so far behind that they can easily crush us.

“Neither of us were alive when humanity first discovered aliens in the Milky Way, but the topic is something I am quite interested in, and I’ve read a number of scientific reports and historical papers summarizing and explaining our first contacts.

“Many of them were immediately hostile to any outside contacts, others backstabbed us at the first opportunity, several attacked us over disputed resources, and some were so alien that we couldn’t even find any common ground or manage to contact them except in the most vague of terms so as to be useless. As I am sure you are aware, the Milky Way eventually broke down into total war, with a single victor, however temporarily. Why should Andromeda be any different?”

Neyana frowned. “I’m not saying that it will be possible to befriend every alien race, or even most of them. One thing we have now that we didn’t have before is a mobile home. If our neighbors are hostile, we can simply move. On top of this, we also won’t be competing for prime space with our neighbors because of that mobility.”

Mennon took another bite out of his apple as he considered how to respond, when one of the ship’s engineers approached their bench. Bowing respectfully to the two, the man informed them, “The mana sensor array has been fully calibrated. The two of you are needed to jump start the array so we can begin scanning Andromeda in more detail.”

Finishing the apple, Mennon glanced at Neyana. “We can continue this later, if you want.”

She nodded. “I enjoy our talks.”

Both standing, the two members of the farsight council followed the engineer, whose name was Traega, to the newly installed mag rail. Getting in to the car, the three set off towards the heart of the vessel.

The week after the wakeup protocols had been initiated had been incredibly hectic, with a number of important repairs and technological innovations taking place. One of the first and most important innovations had been to finally construct a series of magnetically levitated cars on wraithsteel rails for the purpose of incredibly fast transport, planned before the Musteon left the Milky Way, but delayed due to survival taking precedence over convenience. The posthumans aboard the Musteon were partially formed from the emotion energy known as mana, and as such had far higher acceleration tolerances than pre space age humanity that once huddled in their Earthen cradle. Because of this, these cars had very high accelerations, and moved incredibly quickly along tubular magnetic rails. The 20 mile journey to the core of the ship took only a scant handful of minutes.

The three walked along the platforms to the very center of the spherical core. Circling the edge of the 100 foot wide cylinder running through the center of the core, Traega placed his hand upon the edge of the cylinder shoulder height above the platform. Starting at the base of the platform, two white sparkling points rose from the silvery white metal of the cylinder. The two points rose up before curving towards each other above their heads. The points then dropped in the middle and merged back into floor. The wraithsteel shape denoted by the path the sparks traveled separated into two pieces and folded inwards on hidden hinges. Traega stepped through, and the two farseers followed.

Inside the cylinder, the very heart of the heart of the vessel, was a wide room, several miles tall. Glittering conduits ran up and down the walls of the room, occasionally jumping the gap and meeting in the middle, or switching to the opposite wall. Traega closed the door behind them, and the sensation of gravity went away. Just in front of them, centered in the middle of the room, was a large wraithsteel ball wide enough for over fifty people to join arms around the outside edge. The ball was centered in the room by wraithsteel bars, linking it to the walls and preventing it from moving. Many of the cables moved along these bars and merged with the arcane sphere, which occasionally crackled with bursts of power.

The walls were currently calibrated as display screens, showing a number of statistics about the vessel, the surrounding space, and the sphere itself. A number of technicians crawled around the sphere, tweaking components with their magic and calibrating various sensors.

Off to the side, Legado, Kliva, and Kalvi watched this take place. The twins were brother and sister. They had been born around the time of the end of the Galactic War, and seen the destruction wreaked in it by aliens, as well as the devastation brought by the Hunger. Both were incredibly xenophobic, and advocated an incredibly hostile response to any potential threats found in Andromeda.

Upon seeing Neyana and Mennon, the three floated over. They greeted each other peacefully for the most part, although Kliva and Mennon shared a short glare at each other.

Traega, meanwhile, had formed a circular door in the side of the sphere, and entered it. He emerged shortly after with another man, whose name was Gray. Gray was the head technician of the Musteon, and currently the only human alive who fully understood the masterpiece of engineering that was before the farsight council.

For the sphere in front of the group was indeed a masterpiece. It interfaced with innumerable sensor pylons across the craft, as well as the wraith circuit itself. The inside of the sphere, when active, would tear open a rift into the layer of space below space that contains the energy utilized by humanity. Originally dubbed the emotional energy reservoir by the people who discovered it, the term “The Tumult” was later adopted by most of humanity, named after the attempts to describe it by the first people to look inside. The sphere had three functions. First, it functioned as an incredibly sensitive vision array that could detect numerous different types of emissions, wavelengths, gravitational wave, and more. It then took this information, and combined it into a cohesive image of the space around the Musteon for light hours.

The second function it performed was to form a link with the wraith cores of the human battleships. The Musteon’s fleet was designed with flexibility in mind. It was impractical to give each ship a fully formed wraith core, but without access to the wraith circuit in the Musteon, any ships that left the same system would effectively be cut off from their source of energy. A workaround to the problem was to give each battleship of a fleet a wraith circuit. Each battleship had a psychic link to the wraith circuit of the Musteon, and could act as a relay to the rest of the fleet, drastically expanding possible mission times.

The third, and arguably most important task relegated to the sphere, was that of functioning as an eye into the Tumult. This sphere loosed psychic probes into the Tumult. Every person in the galaxy created a little point, a well in the ocean. Utilizing this, the sphere’s psychic probes could scan the entire galaxy, and, with a little guesswork, determine where planets were, where ships were, and build a fairly complete image of the galaxy when combined with standard sensors.

It was for this last purpose that the repair and recalibration of the sphere had been prioritized for. The humans aboard the Musteon were unaware of what lay in Andromeda, and hoped to use the Tumult to read the state of the galaxy before plunging in, much as one who plans to dig a well and uses a divining rod to find water first.

Gray greeted the farseers, shaking their hands. A mental probe lightly touched the outer borders of each farseer’s mind, requesting they form a pentagon around the sphere, standing in the corner.

Gray was mute, and one the few people who relied entirely on telepathic conversation. An autistic savant, he cared for nothing but his works. Normally an unsolicited telepathic probe would be a grievous breach of courtesy, but due to his muteness and impatient with things he deemed unimportant, the others were used to such courtesies being waived in his presence.

The five moved to form a pentagon shape with the sphere in the center. They were each given a harness that was connected to the sphere with a wraithsteel cable, and reached out their hands towards each other.

They began wreathing a spell, with the assistance of Gray, that would kickstart the sensor. After it was activated, the Musteon would be able to scan local energy levels and begin scouting out the galaxy. Energy gathered in the room and the layers of reality began collapsing upon each other in the center of the sphere. Vision turned hazy, sound grew muted. The wraithsteel looked hyper tangible, somehow more solid than solidity itself.

The sphere, under the guidance of the farseers, began creating a dimensional null point at its core, where all of the layers of reality collapse together and the physical can affect the metaphysical.

As the spell reached its peak and began binding itself to the nexus of energy, the farseers’ bodies began dissolving at the edges as all of their mental energy was devoted to managing the sphere.

Reality became ever more distorted, vision became sharded and disjointed, like looking through a broken funhouse mirror. Purple streams of energy flowed around the room. Suddenly, with a strong breeze, all of the energy was drawn into the sphere. Reality settled, the farseers slouched in their restraints. For but a moment, the sphere was active with purple electricity crackling across its surface, and information covered the walls of the room.

Alarms began blaring and red lights began flashing. A panel of light displaying information appeared before Gray as he accessed the sphere’s telemetry with his mind.

The sphere is straining itself trying to stabilize. Something is wrong with the Tumult.

Panels of information flickered past Gray, a system diagnostics no one but he could understand. His normally passive face paled, and his mental voice came through as quite distressed. The Tumult is abnormally underdeveloped! The small amount of information I am getting indicates this galaxy does indeed have life, but rather than being an all encompassing dimension of energy that permeates the whole galaxy, it seems to be localized to individual sources of life like planets.

Another shudder ran through reality, and black cracks began tearing at the space around the sphere. I’m trying to reverse the process, but the already drained ship reserves are being abnormally unruly. I need you five to unsnare the Tumult from our reality. I can assure you that we do not want an unstable rift forming at the heart of our refuge.

The farseers gave the mental equivalent of nods, and began focusing again on the sphere, reaching out with their talents. Humanity at this time had mostly transcended the need for a physical body, able to reshape much of it at will. This was the result of the first genetic experiments performed upon the discovery of the Tumult, and, in their vanity, these changes were made without knowledge of their consequences. Having a body mostly made out of spent emotional energy has a number of benefits, but one major drawback. Normally individuals would create more mana than their spirits and bodies would use, but the aforementioned changes caused humanity to begin using more energy than they produced, simply to exist in a stable state. This issue was one of the major causes of humanity’s downfall and exodus from the Milky Way.

Channeling too much of the energy that comprised the very fabric of the universe itself had a number of adverse side effects, and even the farseers, with their centuries of practice and enhanced bodies were suffering under the strain of activating and then deactivating the Nexus within such a short time frame.

Under Gray’s guidance, the five farseers carefully untangled the layers of reality from each other. It was a delicate dance, maneuvering threads of reality around each other. Sometimes one farseer would hold a thread in place while another danced around it, sometimes two threads would need to pass through each other, and the farseers had to move quickly to avoid the threads fusing. As the farseers worked, Gray’s mind flitted behind them, smoothing out the wrinkled space into a cohesive whole.

After fifteen minutes of nerve wracking work, somewhat akin to sewing by hand while the needle, thread, and clothing are all vibrating, it was done. The sphere had been safely unentangled and returned to its resting state, and the wraith circuit’s already dangerously low energy levels stopped dropping further.

The mood, though, was far from one of relief. A fully developed Tumult, even combined with hostile yet advanced aliens, would have been better news than what the council had just learned. For regardless of enemy technological advancement, as long as humanity could wield the power of reality itself, it did not matter.

But possible hostiles, up against a spacecraft barely capable of preventing the dissolution of its inhabitants, much less the expenditure of resources associated with war of any scope? That is a different story.

Legado was the oldest of the farseers, and had been around at the peak of humanity. He spent the rest of the day wandering, lost in memories and communing with ancient friends still contained within the wraith circuits, and fearing what was to come.

Kliva and Kalvi spent the day scheming and plotting, planning for when the Musteon encountered natives.

Mennon and Neyana, the most naive and young, were shaken by what they had learned that morning. While they looked forwards to meeting other life, learning of the lack of a Tumult was incredibly unnerving to them.

The rest of the week was spent on repairs, before the Musteon turned towards a more promising star system, in search of natural resources. Its great reality bending engines roared to life, pushing it into a intimidating, uncertain future.

Chapter 1

I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert… near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed;
And on the pedestal these words appear:
‘My name is Ozymandias, king of kings;
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!’
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.
       -Ozymandias,
                            by Percy Bysshe Shelley

Mennon awoke to the hiss of air vents and dim red emergency lights flashing through his closed eyelids. His eyes slowly opened, revealing the grand main corridor of the Musteon through the passage pod’s wraithglass lid, lit with strobing red lights that exacerbated his already painful headache.

He groaned and shifted his head as the nanite construction that had supported his body while in longsleep, and the cryogenic gases that preserved it, withdrew into the walls of the pod.

Oxygen replaced the space which had previously been filled with cryogenics, and with it came clarity as his brain began working again after a twenty five thousand year lapse.

As he waited for the system to verify he was conscious and open the pod door, he decided to interface with the wraithsteel in the pod to check on the status of the vessel.

What he found was rather concerning. Without outside stimuli the wraith circuit and the souls inside had fallen into a state of half life. Because of this, the constant use of the engines for the massive journey had slowly but surely drained almost all of the massive amount of energy the ship had stored before leaving the Milky Way, with no used emotions to recharge it. As a result, the engines had been running on fumes for nearly a tenth of the great journey, which meant it took them nearly one thousand years longer than predicted to arrive.

Mennon mentally scanned through numerous computer generated damage reports, eyes flickering behind his eyelids. Hundreds of systems across the ship had begun to experience dangerous levels of wear and tear as a result of the extended travel time. And to compound this issue, the engineers had not the energy to create more wraithsteel for repairs, and there was virtually no extra components left in the storage dome

As the wraithglass lid finally swung open, moving upwards on hidden hinges, Mennon finished his cursory examination of the ship and prepared for the vast amount of questions that would likely head his way in the ensuing days.

Rubbing his eyes with his still weak arms, Mennon stepped out of the passage pod into the main corridor and was surprised to see that his was the first pod open. He again closed his eyes and sent a pulse of energy down the wraithsteel corridor to see if anyone else had woken yet, finding that only a select few members of the crew itself had  awoken, namely repair specialists. Apparently the ship’s computer included Mennon in the category, due to him being an engineer before turning into an impromptu leader when one of the previous farseers on the council died during their fleeing from the Milky Way.

He contacted the most senior engineer. Do you know what the issue is?

The reply came back momentarily. Hull breach in the engineering bay. The bay had no oxygen when the breach happened, so damage was minor. The AI wanted to confirm that it wouldn’t be an issue before revitalizing the rest of the populace. I already confirmed wakeup protocols.

Mennon responded with the mental equivalent of a nod, and then began walking towards the wraith circuit in the center of the ship to activate the wraith circuit wakeup protocols. The Musteon was a huge ship, meaning the trip from where his pod was to where the circuit was equaled a distance of roughly two miles. And his pod was one of the closer ones. The circuit dome itself was essentially a massive mana generator and battery, coating the walls of a dome roughly fifteen miles across.

The original designers simply teleported from place to place, but with the ship on such low power mode that wasn’t an option. As such, Mennon opted for a much slower method, pouring some of his personal mana into his leg muscles and his lungs, giving his body a temporary boost so that he could sprint the nine miles or so to the core of the wraith circuit in a little under half an hour. During that time the other members of the farsight council were woken. Their names were Neyana, Legado, Kliva, and Kalvi.

Neyana and Legado were aligned with Mennon on Andromedan interference policy, namely, keeping the existence of the Musteon and humanity a secret from the natives, while learning about the natives more before deciding whether to interact at all, and if so, in what way. The twin siblings Kliva and Kalvi were instead pushing for a dominance policy, saying that humans were the superior lifeform and should rule Andromeda, enslaving any other races found there and using them to further humanity’s goals.

Naturally, this kind of schism led to some rather tense meetings before the longsleep had begun, and, Mennon suspected, would lead to many more disagreements now that the longsleep was ending.

Mennon halted in his reflections to stop before the door to the wraith circuit dome and admire it. To call it a door was somewhat of an understatement, as it was more of a huge circular gateway, and guarded by an ancient warrior spirit from ages gone by.

Mennon raised his hand and it began glowing softly as he confirmed his identity to his unseen elder. After a moment, the gateway began opening. The circular door slid into the ceiling, walls, and floor in three parts which had joined together when closed, reinforcing each other.

The three pieces were symbolic, a representation of how humanity must work together and reinforce each other to survive. Individually, each pane was comparatively weak and easily broken. Together, they became much stronger. Smooth curved lines split from the center, separating the three pieces, and as they slid into the walls, the glow faded and Mennon stepped through.

Inside the dome was an amazing sight. The dome itself was massive, and the other side was lost in a haze, even to Mennon’s sharpened sight. The walls were covered in massive purple mana crystals, easily the size of an elephant. Between the tips of the different crystals energy would jump occasionally as a loud zap and a bright light for but a moment.

Looking to the center, a walkway led out to the middle of the dome as the bottom of the sphere dropped away quickly, covered in yet more crystals. In the center of the dome was a wraithsteel pillar, towering from the top to the bottom of the dome. Mennon headed towards it, running again due to still having to go two more miles to reach the middle.

Once he reached the center he placed a palm against the side of the pillar, thicker than the redwoods on Earth had been. A console emerged from the pillar after his identity was confirmed.

What followed was a series of complex commands and system queries as Mennon began the delicate process of waking up the psychic equivalent of nearly a billion people at once. The wraith circuit was a delicate tuning device, not unlike a tuning fork, in which if you smashed it with something rather than just tapping, it would bend and become inoperable.

Bolts of energy began flashing faster in the dome, travelling from crystal to crystal. A soft glow began permeating the air as the spirits in the circuit opened their metaphysical eyes. A number of psychic greetings rolled over Mennon as the wraith circuit began its wakeup cycle.

He mentally greeted them in return, addressing many by name. He asked them how the journey had been, and what, if any, accidents had happened to the Musteon. Mennon created a mental list of the various issues that now plagued the home of the last remainder of humanity.

He spent about an hour communing with lost family members and friends, kept in stasis to ensure humanity’s continued survival. By this time many of the repair personnel and the other members of the conclave had been woken, and had begun re familiarizing themselves with the ship.

Mennon finally withdrew from the wraith circuit in time to greet two of the conclave, a elder, alive during the golden age of humanity, whose name was Legado, and a woman as young as he, named Neyana.

He greeted them both with a nod. “How was the Longsleep?”

Legado inclined his head in turn, and replied, “Dreamless as usual. The wakeup cycle seems to have functioned as intended, and not one person has died due to a malfunction.”

“Good.”

There was a pause while Mennon cast around for a new topic, reluctant to simply allow the three to fall into silence. “Are Kliva and Kalvi awake yet?”

Neyana nodded. “The two of them went to oversee the domes and ensure that each biosphere is still in balance. How is it here in the core?”

Sighing, Mennon explained, “The core is practically empty on energy, and it will take some time for our ancestors to fully wake. There are numerous microfractures leaking energy, and a major issue regarding the circuit connections around the main storage bay being close to breaking. I asked the spirits to start a more thorough scan, and then report to the engineers.”

“The resilience of our ancestors’ engineering continues to astound me. Ten thousand years, and still functional.” Legado smiled. “I’m going to head towards the bridge, and get a report on our location and the nearby stellar bodies.”

With that, the three members of the farsight council began the long walk to the bridge. The Musteon was a worldship, built hastily and designed to carry one hundred million passengers. It was one of many that fled the milky way at the time of its death. Due to the need for mass production to ensure humanity’s continued survival, the Musteon did not possess conveniences such as trains or cars. At normal human walking speed, the trip to the bridge from the middle of the central core was around 17 miles, which would take over five hours. As such, the three humans poured energy into their limbs, making it such that they could perform the journey in about forty minutes, resolving to get faster transportation figured out as soon as possible.

As they travelled, they passed many other people. Some already awake and at work performing repairs on long dormant systems in the process of rebooting, but most were still sleeping. It would take about two weeks for the Musteon to be fit for mass habitation by its seven point eight million refugees.

At length the three council members reached the doors to the command dome. As the smallest dome, it was placed in the front, with larger domes being placed consecutively. The arrangement of the Musteon led to the fragile biospheres being mounted on the back, near the engines, and gave the Musteon a vaguely knifelike, bubbly shape.

Once through a door similar to the entrance to the wraith circuit’s core, the three found the bridge awash with blue light. Through the massive dome spanning windows made from specialized wraithsteel, the accretion disk of a large neutron star could be seen. The blue white light was intense, and only automatic darkening of the windows in the dome stopped the temperature from increasing to lethal levels.

The light from the star cast odd shadows over the fixtures in the dome, as the three council members proceeded to the main command console. As with most things human, the dome was completely overengineered, with a circumference of four miles. Designed to be the command and control center for the last remnant of the human race, there was numerous meeting rooms, countless redundant control panels for all ship systems, three separate bridge areas, and countless control seats for the pilots of the Musteon’s defence fleet, enough to control a fleet two hundred times the current size.

The last two miles to the main command bridge passed quickly in the odd pale blue halflight that made its way through the filtered dome windows. Upon arriving, the three entered and began the full ship wakeup protocols for the craft. The central command bridge was buried deep inside the command dome, surrounded by countless layers of reinforced wraithsteel. Roughly the size of one of the ancient football stadiums of old humanity, the room’s walls were covered in wraithsteel linked to countless sensors and cameras around the outside of the ship, the panels designed to be incredibly flexible and though sensitive, so that the fleet command can rearrange and display any data desired, arranged as desired. The entire spherical room essentially functioned as a giant, 360 degree visual display that was controllable with thought alone.

In the center of the room, on a raised platform fifty feet across, a ring of psychoreactive command consoles surrounded five chairs placed in a star shape in the center. Getting into three of the chairs, Legado, Neyana, and Mennon simultaneously placed their palms into specific grooves in the chairs, while broadcasting their mental authorization codes.

With a soft hum, the walls of the room flickered to life with multiple views of the space outside the Musteon, and the command console displays bloomed before the three farsight council members.

Minds processing information at a rate faster than any pre ascension human could hope to achieve, pressing issues, damage reports, and personnel updates were all quickly internalized, with multiple different plans for reactivating the ship fully flitting through their minds.

Faster than any chess player plans were drawn, theoretically tested, and discarded. After thirty or so seconds, the three shared a silent moment of mental communication before moving off to their individual tasks.

Waking an 80 mile long sleeping beast is a daunting task, but one the three were well up to.